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Do I care about Technorati? Do you?

© January 2006 Anthony Lawrence

Once again there are rumors that Technorati is about to be sold. This time it's Yahoo who is supposed to be making the bid. It's possible: Yahoo did buy Flickr and Del.icio.us, which certainly are similar in concept.

When the Google rumors were around, I thought Technorati might actually be important. Heck, it looks like a good idea: tags help identify content, improving search accuracy, searchers and website owners rejoice, we're all happy.

Except we forgot that the world is full of lying scum who put out spam and other junk. Lately folks have been referring to this garbage as "splogs" (spam blogs), so we'll use that term here. These splogs manipulate Google, Yahoo and everyone else already, so why wouldn't they clog up Technorati too? Of course they do, but there's also another reason not to get excited about tagging:

Not everyone bothers.

Lots of websites pay no attention to Technorati tags. I give some attention to it here, but I don't put a lot of effort into it, and there are plenty of sites that have never even heard of Technorati. As users of Technorati can tag pages themselves, content can still be tagged even if a website doesn't do it, but there is lots of perfectly good content out there that nobody has ever tagged or categorized in any way.

That being true, searching for content at Technorati is always going to come up with less than searching for the same content at Google or another search engine. Ahh, you exclaim, sure, "less", but more accurate! If only that were true. In fact, far too many legitimate Technorati sites load up their pages with irrelevant tags. If they ever write about X, Y or Z, then every post they make is tagged X,Y AND Z regardless of its actual content. Of course the splogs do even worse, tagging to attract undeserved traffic. The result? Searching for content at Technorati isn't all that useful.

Oh, I'm such a grump and so out of touch, right? The "in crowd" uses Technorati, right? I don't know for sure, but I'd guess not. If I examine referrals in my web logs, Google always takes top honors. In this past week, Google searches were the source of 34,000 visitors here, Technorati brought a grand total of two. Yes, two. Even del.icio.us did better than that (22 referrals this week). Of course del.icio.us referrals probably originate from Technorati tags, but no matter how you look at it, Technorati referrals just don't matter to this site.

Technorati has had it's share of technical problems too: appararently the volume of sites submitting tags has caused it to stagger a bit. There have been complaints that the "top 100" charts aren't accurate and so on. Part of that may be from Technorati making efforts to weed out the splogs, which is a commendable but probably utterly hopeless task.

Well, if I owned Technorati, I'd be happy to sell it. As much as I like the idea of tagging, less than universal coverage, sloppy usaage and deliberate misrepresentation ruins it. I don't use Technorati tagging to search for content, and my web logs say very few other folks do. Advice to Dave Sifry: If Yahoo wants to buy it, take the money and run.

Yeah, I know there are some "big names" out there who still think tagging is fantastic. If it weren't for the splogs and lazy misuse, they might be right. As it stands, I think Yahoo would be wasting their money.

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